Phil and I met online through an internet chat program. We were friends for many years and then met on my 21st birthday. When we met we knew that there was something more than "just friends" between us, so we decided to visit each other on a regular basis both in Townsville and Sydney for approximately another year. We then moved half way to Brisbane to be with one another. Six years later Phil proposed to me while dining at Pier Nine restaurant in the Brisbane CBD. It was funny, because even though we had known each other for more than seven years, we were both as nervous and excited as anything that night!
From the time that we were engaged we had a little less than 2 years to get the wedding organised. We didn't start researching things until around 18 months beforehand. Luckily we did start planning though because a lot of reception venues were already booking out - and fast - especially for a September wedding!
Initially we had some difficulty deciding on a ceremony/reception venue. Some places were already booking out for September 2004 and some places just weren't appropriate for what we had planned. We found it really easy to source a photographer, DJ, ceremony music, flowers, hair/makeup, suit hire and dress design. The tricky bit came when we had to make finer details about the ceremony vows, what songs to play at different times and where to seat guests. Having such a long engagement, even though it was somewhat necessary in order to have a September wedding, also made the planning drag on a bit more than what we had probably wanted.
I would have to say that the greatest "high" was when my dress started to be designed. For some reason my dress was really difficult to decide on and 'face'. I think I used it as my procrastination tool, to convince myself that I had more time than what I actually did have in order to organise the wedding. BUT, when I did eventually get the dress underway, it was just an amazing experience! I wish that I had done it sooner so that I could have enjoyed it more.
It was raining off an on during the week leading up to the wedding - so I was very nervous about having a wet wedding! Then on the morning of the wedding I looked outside and it was perfect!!!! An absolutely perfect day, with not a cloud in the sky. It wasn't hot and wasn't cold, just perfect. I had felt remarkably calm in the morning when I woke up. I "heard" that Phil was probably feeling more 'hung-over' than anything in the morning - which I found slightly humorous - self-inflicted!
Our ceremony was held at the Wedding Gazebo at The Bardon Centre. It was a garden ceremony. We had 'chanson' (a harp, cello and flute group) play throughout the ceremony. We had stephanotis hanging from the gazebo - in memory of my maternal grandmother who could not be there. Phil and I had written our own vows. It was a reasonably long ceremony in comparison to most garden weddings.
Both of my parents gave me away, which was really special to us all. We had each bridesmaid and groomsman come up to the alter with a ribbon that was previously assigned to them. Each ribbon had a message written on it - a special wish to us both. We had assigned six ribbons that were each a different colour of the rainbow (eg. one red, one blue). Each bridal party member read out the ribbon message and then laid the ribbon over our hands clasped together. At the end, our celebrant had a white ribbon of which she read a special last wish and then tied her ribbon around the others. We still have these ribbons, tied together, as a keep sake that we will treasure forever!
The ceremony was beautiful, everybody was smiling and smiling and beaming. We had a variety of older and younger guests who attended the wedding. One of the 'highs' of the day was when Phil started to cry at the alter. As he was reciting his vows he started to well up and couldn't stop.
We had our reception at The Acacia Room at The Bardon Centre. It had a long bridal table with candelabras on either side with candles alight. There was a huge backdrop to the bridal table that had silver organza overlays hanging down at different levels behind each bridal party member. There was also ivy sitting on top and over the side of the backdrop. The bridal table and guest tables each had huge floral centrepieces, with flowers from my wedding bouquet. Each guest chair cover had a lime green sash tied around it, while the bridal table had silver chair sashes. Each table had two sets of three alternating height candle holders - with tea lights floating in water. At each guest setting there was a tea light holder (that I had painted to suit the theme of spring) with a lit tea light. There was also a place card in the shape of a butterfly sitting on each guest's wine glass.
There was a bottle of Phil's home brewed "Wedding Sparkle" beer with specially made labels, and a small chocolate encased in a clear plastic container - for the bombonieres. The napkins were tied with silver ribbon. There were "Did you know?" cards at each table, with tit-bits of information about Phil and I - to encourage guests to mingle and talk amongst themselves. The tables were named with landmarks or towns that were related to Phil and I (eg. Sydney, Home Hill, Brisbane) and a little blurb about what each place meant to us. Our wedding cake had a miniature iced sculpture of our baby cat, sitting on the side on the bottom layer. We had "numerous" leafy pot plants around the room, with green lights directed up into their leaves to bounce green shadows onto the ceilings and walls. Phil's brother supplied a "Congratulations" banner that was hung behind the DJ on the dance floor.
All around room there were fairy lights hung like a web over the floor to ceiling windows/doors. he reception room was absolutely beautiful, it was even more than we had both imagined. It looked like a twinkling wonderland where guests could mingle, play and have fun - which is everything we had imagined it would be. There were tea lights at every guest setting and everywhere else that there was spare room.
The speeches were also extremely memorable, both highs and lows. My father and brother speaking were definitely highs. When my sister-in-law and bridesmaid got up to make a speech to Phil's mother, who was dearly departed, she began to cry - there was not a SINGLE dry eye in the room. It may sound like a low, but it was also a high for Phil and I, because it showed a great deal of meaningful emotion and expressed what we were all thinking. The final BIG high was when Phil and I did our bridal waltz. We had taken 10 lessons (initially dragging Phil to go *hehe*) and learnt to dance to Barry White's "You're my first, my last, my everything". It was not your typical waltz, but rather an upbeat Meringue dance that had the entire room wolf whistling, wooing, clapping and squealing. It was certainly a high for both of us!
The one thing I would have changed, IF I had my time all over again, I would have tried to enjoy the planning stage more, by possibly having a shorter engagement.
The ceremony vows were the very most important yet most difficult part to organise. We didn't finalise them until the week before the wedding. Phil and I wanted to make the vows "just right". However, by mulling over them so much, we basically ended up procrastinating and getting side tracked with other, easier to deal with activities. Because we had left them till late to finalise, and we were exhausted from planning other aspects of the wedding, we really had to knuckle down hard in order to finish it. We were glad though that we took the time to get them JUST RIGHT!
We honeymooned at Hervey Bay. We stayed at The Charlton Apartments, which were divine! We went whale watching several times (have numerous hours of videotape of whales in differing positions in the water - really exciting stuff after the first 1/2 hour of it). But really, the whale watching was beautiful and really special to experience. We visited Fraser Island, which was an absolute blast! Even simply travelling around the island in the tour buses, was a truly awesome experience. We dined at French, Irish, Italian and classy Seafood restaurants. A highly recommended place to unwind and relax!